Apr 10, Colombo: State Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Dilip Wedaarachchi said that 21 Sri Lankan fishermen, who were detained in the Maldives after they were arrested in late February for trespassing into the Maldivian waters, have been released.
The Minister said that the 21 fishermen will return to Sri Lanka tomorrow night (11). The fishermen are scheduled to leave Maldives on SriLankan Airlines flight UL104 at 9 pm.
State Minister Wedaarachchi said the fishermen could be brought back to Sri Lanka expeditiously as a result of discussions held by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with the Maldivian authorities.
The Minister said they were able to get the fishermen released from Maldivian custody and bring them home under the speedy program to bring back Sri Lankans who are detained in foreign countries, before the upcoming Sinhala & Tamil New Year.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has taken measures yesterday to provide Rs. 1.6 million for the air tickets, food and other facilities for the 21 fishermen who had been released from the custody of the Maldivian authorities.
Meeting with the relatives of the arrested fishermen and the owners of the multi-day trawlers on March 13 Minister Wedaarachchi assured that all necessary steps will be taken to bring the fishermen back within few weeks.
The Minister said he is delighted to have been able to bring the fishermen back as he promised.
The Maldivian authorities on February 28 apprehended two multi-day fishing vessels sailing back to Sri Lanka after engaging in fishing in the Arabian Sea along with the fish catch, the fishing gear and the fishermen on board, and two other multi-day trawlers sailing to the Arabian Sea, along with fishermen and fishing gear.